Propaganda of Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


People have been observed to associate evil with extraordinary in a gruesome manner. According to Arendt, this belief is a product of the influence of the media, the occurrences n history and an individual’s own understanding that malevolence is isolated and easily identifiable since it is not a usual occurrence, or ordinary. Arendt observed this as an individual’s way of setting himself apart from people who have committed such crimes in the past, displaying brutality through their heinous acts (Arendt 12).

Despite this observation, Arendt showed the predictability of evil as depicted by the role played by Eichmann among the Nazi. Eichmann was a family man who lived a common life, though his personality drove him to the desire for success that eventually leads to crimes that cost him his life.

The author portrays Eichmann as a person who did no wrong, according to himself, simply because he was following orders. This is a scenario that has occurred with the Nazi, under the command of Adolf Hitler, and the story of Jim Jones, and the people who followed him in a quest to build an ideal society (Arendt 23).

Social psychology

There have been various acts of mass killing in America, due to charisma and the influence of leaders. Charles Manson influenced a group of ten people to commit murder in Southern California, in 1969. Charles was able to attain this since he had convinced his followers that he was Christ incarnate, and defended his actions by saying that he was just a reflection of the ills in society. Another incidence saw a member of the US House of Representatives and his entourage killed, on the order of Jim Jones, in Jonestown.

Jim Jones later requested his over 900 followers to conduct the greatest mass suicide in history, by drinking cyanide-laced kool-aid. This suicide was observed to be voluntary, so that the many women, men and children would be with their leader, whom they adored. The situation was magnified as observed with the situation of Adolf Hitler, whose vision was followed by an entire nation. The influence of Hitler led to a great war, and many cruel acts (Moore, Shular and Carter).

Through studies conducted on the influence exhibited by leaders such as Charles, Jones and Hitler on their followers, it was observed that their persuasion was beyond normal logic. The followers were observed to be entirely committed to the commands of their leaders, and were even willing to kill themselves and others, on request by their leaders.

The public on the other hand viewed such leaders as unusual figures, who were unattractive due to their violent nature, and provided their followers with paranoid delusions that were destructive of unity and peace. These movements provided difficulties in observing the relationship between leaders and their followers, with respect to social theory (Moore, Shular and Carter).

Power of a group

Student riots are one of the common examples of the power exhibited when people are in groups. The same can be attributed to the followers of Jones and Hitler, regarding their violent nature and brutality. People in groups have been observed to experience excitement when involved in things that are unlawful or restricted. Reasonable people are easily transformed into followers of their leaders, who are then seen as avatars of God on earth.

This explains how easily people can be influenced into changing their beliefs and adopting totally differing concepts from what they are used to, even if it is momentary. The transformation that people go through in adopting new ideologies can also be observed as identities picked up so that they can alienate themselves from the normal lifestyle, with all the challenges that they face on a regular basis.

The involvement of people in activities that demand self sacrifice was attributed to the commitment obtained from compelling leadership and persuasive groups that lead people into social transformation and revolution.

Power of propaganda

Propaganda takes on a political aspect, and uses mediums such as radio broadcasts, posters, and leaflets, among others. The objective of the propagandist is to change the expectations and actions of the people by changing their understanding of a situation or an issue, so that it coincides with that of the propagandist (Irving, 1999). One way to looks at propaganda is the provision of selective information, so that people are provided with only one point of view.

The delivery of such information also seeks to prevent the people from being confronted with varying information. The opinion of the people is therefore dependent on confusion and deception, as opposed to understanding and persuasion. As in the case of Adolf Hitler, who used propaganda as a weapon for war.

He created a false image and therefore channelled the people’s hatred towards an enemy, by making them believe that an injustice had been dome against them. The ministry for public enlightenment and propaganda was the one responsible for most of the propaganda in Germany (Irving, 1999).

Leadership by example

Jones had been observed from an early age as a person who got along with the stigmatized people, including the fat, ugly old ladies, the unloved and the downtrodden. He struggled for the welfare of his followers, ensuring that they had a home and food to eat, without caring for his material needs. Jim Jones and his followers exhibited ecstatic communal selflessness. Jim Jones was observed to be a paranoid leader, who led his people to a catastrophic blood bath in the temple.

About 1,000 people killed themselves by consuming a poison, including the armed guards who surrounded Jonestown. Jones and his closest disciple Moore shot themselves in a double suicide. Some converts who were not at Jonestown were also reported to have killed themselves later, while those who remained alive expressed remorse for not dying with their friends (Galanter 166).

The group comprised about five thousand followers. Jones was able to gain political influence by asking his followers to write letters in order to show that he had a wide support base. This way, many politicians consulted with him, and he was able to obtain a seat as a commissioner in San Francisco. This implies that the temple was not secluded from the world, but rather took an active role to change the system from within.

The people’s temple comprised of mostly the black community, which was a significant difference between them and other organizations. He was able to attract the oppressed blacks since people at the temple worked together in harmony without any prejudice. About 80% of his followers were black, where 70% were women. These people were mainly poor, had previously abused drugs or were incarcerated (Galanter 167).

Influencing the masses

Allied propaganda was observed as the main cause of the revolts and morale collapse, in the navy and home front in Germany, during the First World War. Propaganda was therefore seen to be a tool of great importance by the Nazis. Before any news was disseminated, the journalists and broadcasters had to get it approved first, and it had to reflect the thoughts of Hitler on the subject. The belief of the Nazis was further spread by production and distribution of numerous films and posters.

Among the people who were influenced by Adolf included people in high ranks, who allowed the dissemination of false information. Before the Second World War, the propaganda disseminated by the Nazis was aimed at a few particular people. The struggle of Germany and the Nazi party against both internal and external enemies, including the Jews was continually reminded to the Germans (Irving, 1999).

Jones also learned how to manipulate people based on the words that one chose. This way he was able to manipulate the people, and get them to trust him. When Jones was young, he expressed his anger through cursing, and he would be paid for it. This was effective as Jones had knowledge of the emotional effect of language, and the involvement of masses of people in prohibited acts.

When introduced to the church, he found that he had the ability to preach and speak in tongues, which helped him gain the approval of people, who saw him as a possible child evangelist. His teachings were mainly focused on sexual practises, where he convinced the people to accuse themselves of evil doing. Such evils included sexual misconduct and selfishness (Galanter 168).

The acts of verbal brutality against one another led to physical violence, since the meetings were aimed at undermining the trust of others while reinforcing the dominance of the group over the individual. The people were crowded in a single hot room, with no food or during, confronting each other.

The centrality of Jones was seen through his interventions, when he reminded the people of his selflessness and sacrifices for the success of the group and the temple. The elite and followers were constantly reminded of the Jim Jones’s true and only love that could not be reciprocated, because it was absolute (Galanter 170).

Temple members saluted each other using the phrase Jim loves you’. In doing so, it was instilled among the members that only Jones’s love was pure and unselfish. Jones ensured that all the expressions of love were directed at him, and that the group isolate themselves from outsiders, or members of the public.

Jones encouraged the followers to break apart from their family bonds, and give themselves wholly to the church, since only he, Jones, would help them. In order to achieve this, family work was diffused, with child raising responsibilities being shared among the members. Jones also encouraged his followers to adopt interracial children, in order to break down racial barriers.

Getting the people’s trust through selective delivery of information

With no family ties and everyone referring to Jones as the only person who was right, the people were able to relax. Children were taught to act based on what Jones would do, or how he would approach a particular situation. Jones ensured that the followers were committed to him and the community only by pairing the men and women who were not attracted to each other. He also broke up partners who were fond of each other to avoid any destruction to the purpose and goals of the community (Weinstein 54).

Goebbels and Hitler made people think just what they wanted them to, by ensuring that what they thought, did or said was regarded as safe. The propaganda spread by the Nazi regime showed little resistance from within, and people seemed to show enthusiasm for the rule of Adolf, due to fear. Research conducted on the success of the Nazi propaganda showed that it did attain its intended purpose, which was a rise of the Nazi party by influencing the thoughts of the masses.

The success of the propaganda was highly dependent on the maintenance of an ideal, insightful and convincing image. The first step for Hitler was to establish himself and gain the affection of the people. After attaining this, his standing was appreciated by the people, in spite of the disreputable revelations (Langer, 1972).

Hitler was tactical in spreading of propaganda. He believed that every aspect of the lives of the people should be infiltrated. In order to achieve this, he made sure that people did not know anything else besides the propaganda that they prepared, by having total control of all the media. The most influential propaganda machine was the cinema.

He used it to portray a powerful German nation, with massive marches and gatherings, and incorporated addresses by Hitler, which were not always accurate, though beneficial in motivating the people and strengthening the Nazi influence. The number of people in cinema attendance increased a lot, with the numbers reaching about 250 million in 1933, and one billion ten years later. These movies were Nazi influenced, in order to showcase their might, and in doing so promote the Nazi party (Langer, 1972).

The Germans in other countries like the Baltic States, the Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia were constantly reminded of their blood ties to Germany, which were much more powerful than their loyalty to their new countries.

The Nazis also informed the people of their potential enemies like Britain and France that it was their governments that were pushing for a war with the Germans, and that the Germans had no cause for trouble. Another piece of information disseminated by the Nazis to all people was of the magnitude of their military achievements, as well as their scientific and cultural triumphs (Irving, 1999).

Charismatic appeal of the leaders

Jones encouraged his followers to abstain from sex, while he himself remained active, and demanded that the women declare their sexual satisfaction only from Jones, and not from their partners.

The men were also asked to confess their attraction to him. This was seen as a tactical move to mend his image, since he had been arrested for homosexual solicitation at a cinema theatre. The couples were discouraged from bearing children, and only Jones was permitted to do so. There was a lot of conflict due to Jones’s homosexuality, and also since he sodomized men who refused to confess their attraction to him.

The effectiveness of the influenced films was massive. The introduction of colour films made the visual aspects better, and microphones made sure that the message got through to everyone. The films depicted a strong Nazi army, and scenes in the movies showed the brutality of the British soldiers, separating people from their families and raping the people.

The result for this was strengthened support for Hitler and his mission. There were bigger crowds attending to hear speeches made by Hitler, and the speeches were recorded and broadcasted, so that even more people would get to hear his words.

This persuasion tactic was highly effective in getting the Germans to rally behind the Nazis, and blocking the people from the truth gave them only one side of the story, which they believed to be true. By 1940, about 16 million Germans had access to a radio, which were enough foes Hitler to influence them (Langer, 1972).

The radio was found in both the homes and the workplace, and therefore no message would get past the people. When the Fuhrer made an address while people were working, they had to stop and listen, and this was essential in developing closeness between the people and the Fuhrer.

To reduce monotony, Goebbels sharp mind decided to introduce the broadcasting of entertainment, so that people would remain tuned in, and whenever Hitler needed to address the masses, the entertainment would just be disrupted. This way, people would always be tuned in. Hitler was able to gain the complete trust of the Nazis and the people, which was beneficial in order to lead them to war (Irving, 1999).

During the spread of this propaganda, February 1943, people were not aware of the Holocaust. The strategy used by Germany was aimed at alienating the British and the Americans, and assuming the role of defender of the western European culture. The Nazi propaganda machine was viewed as terrifying, unusual and impressive, alternatively. Goebbels has been seen as the mastermind behind Hitler’s success in persuading the masses, after his immense understanding of human psychology, and the need to be entertained (Langer, 1972).

The inner cadre for Jones lived in fear of his mood swings that resulted in emotional displays of violence. Jones explained his episodes as a result of insulin deficiencies, and demanded that guards be with him at all times so that he would not harm his PC members. He displayed great understanding of his members by the attentiveness with which he listened to their problems and addresses them. He convinced people that he had a magnetic stare, and so he wore glasses to protect his members.

He had great vitality, which enabled him to spend many nights without sleep, or do laborious tasks for long periods of time. This was beneficial to him, as people associated his strength to spiritual energy. His energy was attributed to his addiction to amphetamines (Weinstein 67).

Jim Jones was able to communicate with his followers in great depth, which made people see him as possessing paranormal abilities, and they testified through his actions. He was able to spread his propaganda through sermons. They were structured with great choreography, as Jones understood the need to create an appropriate mood for the desired effect.

In his initial sermons, he emphasized on how ordinary he was, in order to gain the trust of the people, but as the congregation grew, he separated himself from them, and began to depict himself as mighty, which is what the people wanted, as they saw him as God. Jones’s preaching was described by Wightman as below (Weinstein 79).

“He gave earthy commentaries that made the audience howl. With a clever sense of humour, he tossed off all pretensions of piety, adopting the language, intonations and vocabulary of his inner city people….Jones spoke with candour, giving off the sexual magnetism of a crooner”

His messages were specific, and his ability to study the crowd and respond quickly to their liking was also beneficial in showing the unity between him and the people. The believers worshipped him. Jim Jones encouraged his followers to find the God within themselves and fulfil his wishes. In doing so, Jones ensured that the God within the people would be in his own image, therefore influencing the people.


Goebbels was the man behind the success of Hitler in leading the Germans. The radio was highly effective due to the large population. The newspapers were not ideal since they could not reach every person overnight, though regional newspapers were common, and Goebbels still influenced their content. The extremities of the context of the propaganda generated some rebellion due to credibility of the message delivered.

This in itself did not have much effect in distrusting Hitler, since his success as a leader was mainly due to the effect of his vision, which was to become a super power, and the people associated with this. The propaganda spread by Goebbels had a big role in influencing the Germans to rally behind Hitler and the Nazis, since they believed that Hitler’s goal was to advance and change their nation for the greater good (Irving, 1999).

Jonestown temple members grew fast, and Jones found it challenging to interact with the people individually, and this led to defections. The temple was aimed at providing the people with a sense of empowerment, enabling them to accomplish tasks by believing in themselves, and those who left felt that they had achieved self-worth.

Jones and the temple were against people growing beyond them, since he had devoted his life to making himself the sole provider of the people who were dependent on him and no one was allowed to leave the family. In his quest to maintain control, some people began to reconsider their standing in the temple, and Jones therefore sent people to build a place for refuge in the jungle (Weinstein 101).

While in Johnstown, he executed some procedures that did not please the masses and this led to more resentment and defections. His fascination for death was seen in his claims that he was ready to die, but did not, since his people needed him.

The mass suicide was an act of defiance to conform to the needs of society, after some temple members requested to leave. Jones started a war that made his people think that they were under attack, leading to their mass suicide, to prove their defiance to the way of the world, which included corruption. Since the congressman was a threat to their united community, they killed him, and his party. Knowing that they would be attacked, they opted to kill themselves than live without their community (Weinstein 132).

Works Cited

Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Westminster, London: Penguin Classics, 1994. Print.

Galanter, Mark, et al. “The Moonies: A Psychological Study of Conversion and Membership in a Contemporary Religious Sect.” American Journal of Psychiatry (1979): 136, 165-170. Print.

Irving, David. Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich. London: Focal Point Publications, 1999. Print.

Jonestown: The Life and Death of People’s Temple. Dir. Stanley Nelson. Perf. Rebecca Moore, Janet Shular and Tim Carter. 2006.

Langer, Walter. C. The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Secret Wartime Report. New York: Basic Books, 1972. Print.

Weinstein, Fred. The Dynamics of Nazism: Leadership, Ideology and the Holocaust. New York: Academic Press, 1980. Print.

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